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Villiers de l'Lsle Adam, although owing his extraction 
to one of the oldest families of Brittany, and in spite of 
his exaggerated family pride, was the true type of the 
Bohemian. His intellectual affinities, therefore, naturally 
drew him towards those other — then Bohemians, the 
abused Parnassiens, whom he rivalled in his unbending 
hostility to the current taste. Though welcomed as a 
coming star even by such men as Francois Copp^e, Sully 
Prud'homme, Catulle Mendez, and Alphonse Daudet, 
his genius did not attain the development warranted by 
its great and rare qualities. This was chiefly due to his 
want of method and even horror of directing his life 
according to the rules of common sense, of that common 
sense of which Tribulat Bonhomet his favourite character 
says : — 

" Let us bow our heads before this almighty common 
sense which from century to century lays down new sets 
of laws, but whose essence is to hate the very name of 
soul. Let us salute as enlightened folk, this common 
sense, which, as it passes, insults the mind that traced 
the path it follows." 

Villiers was deeply influenced by Baudelaire. His 
kinsman M. Pontavice de Heussey, who has told with 
kindly sympathy the story of his constant struggle with 
material want and yet indifference to comfort, and of his 





eccentricities and pride, thinks this influence was not 
altogether to his advantage. "It developed in him a 
taste for deliberate exaggeration and mystification. His 
genius, naturally clear and luminous, became wrapped 
in a cloudy, fantastical imagery and in obscure and 
superfine affectations, which often spoil his work and 
perplex the reader." Premonitions, mystic and super- 
natural agencies do indeed occupy a large place in his 

The two short pieces forming this volume are among 
Villiers' best and most suggestive work. Though short 
and simple in construction, they deal with two of the 
greatest problems of modern civilisation. L Evasion was 
played at M. Antoine's Theatre libre in 1887, among the 
first pieces of his " new school." It not only contains a 
powerful and dramatic situation, but it is full of suggestive 
incidents. La Revoke is an essentially modern drama. 
It appeared in 1870, more than twenty years before the 
question of the relations of the sexes had become, in 
France, the burning one it is now. After five perform- 
ances at the Vaudeville in Paris, it was withdrawn by 
order of the Censure on the same grounds no doubt as 
those on which much other artistic and conscientious 
work of that time was persecuted. Witness the ridiculous 
lawsuit against Flaubert for the authorship of Madame 
Bovary and the condemnation of Baudelaire. The 
critics, however, gave it no quarter either, and as 
for the public they had not yet been educated by M. 
M. Antoine and Lugne-Poe to grasp the import of the 
inner tragedy, of the conflict of conscience and tendency 
witli which Ibsen's dramas have now made Parisians 



Between La Re'volte and one of Ibsen's most popular 
plays, The Dolls House, there is a strong family likeness. 
Both deal with the same problem, both heroines propound 
the same theories of self-duty and both leave home, 
husband and children with the same object of leading 
thenceforth a worthier existence in dreamland. Elisabeth 
returns after a few hours with a dread of the loneliness 
of the cold, dark night, and the discovery that her self- 
dependency, her aptitude for the appreciation of her own 
inner life is gone, in other words, that her character has 
been tainted by contact with her husband's materialism. 
Her freedom had come when she was no longer fit to 
make use of it. In The Dolls' House we are left in 
doubt as to the ulterior fate of Nora, though Ibsen 
does not exclude reconciliation and the presence of 
Nora's sensible and well-meaning friend points that 

But while the subject is the same, La Revoke and The 
Dolls House are developed on entirely different plans. 
Ibsen's work is that of a master of dramatic construc- 
tion. Villiers, essentially a dreamer and a poet, was 
indifferent to the stage effect and would have considered 
it beneath him to make an effort to please the popular 
taste. Since its first failure, La Revoke has been 
put on the Paris stage now and again for the delecta- 
tion of a small group of faithful admirers. The recent 
representations, however, have been comparative suc- 
cesses, which shows that public understanding for such 
pieces has progressed during the last quarter of a 
century. In fact, although Villiers was a precursor of 
Ibsen in La Re'volte {The Dolls House was published 
in 1879), it is owing to Ibsen that the public taste 



has at length been sufficiently educated to understand 

The present translation of La Re'volte appeared in the 
Fortnightly Review in December 1897. 

T. B. 

Pakis, July 1898. 




Felix, her husband. 

Large sitting-room, decorated in red, black and gold. Door at 
back of stage. Chandelier, carpet. To right of grate, in 
which small fire is burning, arm-chair. On the left an 
ofiice-table, covered with account-books and papers, full in 
view. A shaded lamp throwing light on table. Rest of 
stage in partial darkness. Hand of clock over door at 
back near midnight. 

When the curtain rises, Elisabeth, dressed plainly in black, 
seated resting her elbows on the table, deep in thought. 
Felix opposite, turning over letters and bank notes. 

Elisabeth, Felix. 

Felix {after a long silence). 
What's the time ? 

Very late. 

Felix {absently). 

Midnight already? {He turns up the lamp, blinking.) 

Bother the lamp ! What is the matter with it 

to-night ? I can't see ! Baptistin ! Francis ! 
Francis ! 

Elisabeth {taking up her pen). 

They were tired and I told them to go to bed. 



Felix {muttering). 

Tired — tired ! And are we not ? You let them impose 
upon you, my dear. Those rascals are not worth a 
rope to hang them with. They take every advantage 
of us. (He gets up and lights a cigar at one of the 
candles on the mantelpiece. Smoking with back to 
the fire. Hands behind him.) Yes, they do, they 
do. But that's enough for to-day. You will tire 

Elisabeth (smiling). 

Oh ! you are too kind. 

Felix (slowly and businesslike). 
Have you entered the Farral & Winter receipts ? 

Elisabeth (writing). 

They are pinned together and put away in the second 
drawer of the safe. 

And what about the Lelievre summons ? 

Insolvent. They are very, very poor. 

Felix (shaking the ash from his cigar). 
The building is always worth something. 

Elisabeth (after a pause). 
In that case see to the summons yourself. 


Felix {indifferently). 

Eh? (Aside) Oho ! sentiment, bother sentiment, (Aloud). 
Come, you can't see clearly in business with tears in 
your eyes. If we wait till they are declared bankrupt, 
we shall have to take a dividend. 

Elisabeth (ironically). 
How awful ! 


Yes, yes — schemes of arrangement ! — Long proceedings — 
delay — then a composition — so much in the pound, 
etc., etc. Don't misunderstand me, my dear. If I 
sue these poor Lelievres pitilessly, it is on principle. 
I could weep for them myself, but, hang it — business 
is business. (Pulls his waistcoat straight.) By the 
bye, what are to-day's debits ? 


I have subscribed for twenty-five shares of the Silesian 
Mines. Drawer C. 

Felix (drily). 

That's rather risky ! Oh, I know, directors with sounding 
titles of course, and flaming prospectuses, the financial 
press full of it. I can understand poor devils buying 
such things as a last try of luck, but that you — such 
a prudent, clear-sighted, businesslike woman — should 
have bought on the faith of 

Elisabeth (gently, still writing). 

I know their value. I have given Gaudrot, Goudron & 
Co.'s bills as cover, and completed the amount in 




Oh ! that's different. You were quite right to get rid of 
those rotten bills ; they 


Excuse me. The bills were excellent — perfectly safe. I 
indorsed them with the signature of the firm. All I 
wished to gain was the discount and the commission. 


Oh ! If you are sure of the operation, you have done 
well. Honesty is never thrown away in business. 
And now what about the credits ? 

Elisabeth (consulting a ledger). 

Two thousand six hundred and four francs, twenty- two 


Good. [A church clock strikes twelve. 

Elisabeth (closing her account books. Aside). 

Midnight ! 

[She remains pensive, her eyelids half closed, 
her hand buried in her hair. 

Felix (looking at her complacent!])). 

Well well, after all I must confess you really are a plucky 
little woman and you have a head on your shoulders. 
Positively, during the four years and a half we have 
kept house together, I have never once repented 
having married you. No indeed ! You are a first- 
rate book-keeper. You don't seem bad looking, and 



you are no fool. That's not to be despised. You 
are painstaking beyond my expectations and sweet 
temper itself. I have nothing to find fault with, 
nothing. And if I have trebled my fortune, I have 
you to thank for it. [He walks to and fro smoking. 

Elisabeth {quietly and smiling). 
What woman would not be proud of such praise. 


Yes, I say, thanks to you. But for you I should have 
made many a slip, done perhaps something wrong, 
committed a lot of follies. You have penetration 
. . . almost masculine penetration. And really you 
have a perfect genius for business . . . That is a 
tremendous thing ! . . . Then your modest tastes ! 
You wouldn't ruin me with milliners' bills and 
pleasure seeking. It's even wrong to go out so 
little as you do. You lead too sedentary a life — 
almost a nun's. Why did you break with all your 
school-friends after they got married ? 


I am foolish enough, as you know, to respect only women, 
who are so unfashionable as to decline to neglect 
their duties. 

Felix {sitting down). 

I am glad of it. But of course business first. One has 
to see people, if only for business' sake. We must 
never go to extremes, or we fall into Utopia. 



Elisabeth (teasingly). 

I did not think the credit of the firm would suffer if I 
shunned such company. 

Felix (pleasantly). 

You obstinate little woman ! Come now ! No quixotism. 
As regards the credit of the firm, of course everybody 
knows that I am not the sort of man who would 
disappear by moonlight with the cashbox. And 
when I say I am in the right, I don't pretend to be 
better than I am. To tell you the truth, I don't 
think I was by nature overscrupulous. (Elisabeth 
gives him a look.) This is between ourselves. 
Education has taught me to see my true interests 
and I have become an honest man. 

Elisabeth (mockingly). 
Yes, for manners' sake. 

Felix (coughs, warming his feet at the fire). 

You might mix me a drop of something. I am afraid of 
catching a cold. I look strong, but my constitution 
is delicate. The least draught brings back my 

Elisabeth (with a sort of kindly interest). 
It is true you are not robust. I have often noticed it. 

Felix (sitting down on the sofa). 

Now listen. I want you not to tire yourself so much — 
I insist on it. You understand me ? See how easy 
it is to fall ill. You know I am very fond of you 



and I should not like to see you in bad health. Whom 
could I trust to keep the books if you were in bed. 
No ! henceforth when the weather is fine we will go 
twice a week, except of course on settlement days, to 
enjoy the country air and to look at the beauties of 
nature. Spring is just coming in and that always 
makes a new man of me. You will see — (smiles 
slyly) — I don't dislike the country now and again. 
It brightens one up and it's good for business too. 
It's like the theatre, — we live too retired a life. Why 
shouldn't we go to the play sometimes ? Even that 
can be turned to some account. Besides it is a 
pleasant change. Yes, we'll do that. I can easily get 
tickets — through our friend Vaudran — he is the very 
man. I will punish him for flirting with you at your 
tea-parties — and it will be a saving into the bargain. 

Elisabeth (after a short silence, near a window, 


How dark it is to-night. 


What does it matter ? I have no ship at sea and the roof 
of this house is water-tight. Our worthy forefathers 
knew how to build (returning to the previous topic). 
Of course when we go to the theatre we must try to 
avoid those horrid new pieces — you know. — Accord- 
ing to the papers there is a crew — a band — of in- 
novators who try to put everything into confusion to 
make themselves notorious. They fancy they are 
superior to others. So far as I can see, all they do is 
to awaken emotions in respectable people — that — 



that are almost dangerous. It's preposterous. It 
ought to be put down. I go to the theatre to laugh. 
What else does one go for? I like simple things, 
simple as nature itself. Isn't nature simple ? Isn't 
life simple ? Isn't everything simple ? I don't care 
for mountains too high, in nature, nor in persons 
either. What I like is honest moderation. If people 
want to live in the clouds let them do so discreetly. 
Hang innovators. I like the old pieces. They are 
good — and when a thing is good, people ought to 
i — mi — tate it (poking the fire). I don't mean to 
say, of course, that sometimes — in certain cases — it 
may not be all right to 

Elisabeth (listening). 

Excuse me ! (A carriage is heard drawing up at the gate. 
Aside). The carriage ! Good. 

[She goes to the window and looks out. 

Felix (turning round). 

Hallo ! Did you hear that ? Who can be coming at this 
hour ? That Baptistin ! And— (gets up) — I shall 
dismiss them on the spot. Nobody to answer the 
door ! I must go myself. [Takes a candlestick. 

Elisabeth (in a high key, turning round sharphj, 
pale and proud). 

Save yourself the trouble. There is nobody in the carriage 
at the gate, and I have a confession to make to you. 
You may find it useful to grant me a few moments' 
attention. Of course you will do as you like. 



Felix {startled. Stopping, candle in hand). 
Eh ! What do you say ? You are joking ? 

You will be able to judge by and bye. 

Felix {looking at her closely). 

How pale you are. Do you feel unwell ? Why do you 
speak to me so coldly ? 


I should not encroach upon your time so late if I alone 
were concerned. 

Felix {puts down candle, slightly bewildered). 

Why such a tone ? Why do you look like that ? {starting 
to his feet and breathless). Farral & Winter have 

Elisabeth {taking a pocket-book from a drawer). 

Felix {stuttering though evidently reassured). 

Really, my dear, I have never seen you so strange. 

[A pause. He sinks into an armchair 
opposite his wife. 

Elisabeth {turning over the leaves of her pocket-book). 

Oh, my looks never meant anything. {After a short 
pause, curtly). Here is the exact amount of your 
fortune, trebled as you said in the last four and a 
half years. It is one million two hundred and 



seventy-four thousand francs. Of this sum fifty 
thousand two hundred and eighty francs have been 
earned by me personally, in commissions — here are 
the items. My salary at ten hours a day, Sundays 
excepted, is not included. Here is the amount 
without interest. The law gives you the right, as 
head of our joint fortune, to two-thirds of these 
sums. Deducting them, there remains for me thirty- 
two thousand francs minus sixteen francs thirty 
centimes. Here they are. (She places some money 
on the table.) This purse contains about two hundred 
francs. They belonged to me before my marriage. 
As they are quite apart from my dowry, the law 
permits me to do with them as I like. Out of 
them I pay therefore the balance of the thirty- 
two thousand francs — if you please. 

What do you mean ? Are you out of your mind ? 

Elisabeth (curtly). 

Here is a schedule of the price of my clothes, deducted 
and paid, for four years aud five months — One 
thousand eight hundred and seventeen francs exactly. 
I may remind you that the law compelled you to 
feed and shelter me from the day you put this ring 
on my finger. (Takes off her wedding ring and 
quietly puts it on the table.) The lace, diamonds and 
other presents you gave me before my marriage are 
upstairs in my desk. Here is the list of them, 
fastened to the key of my room. (Puts the key on 
the tabk.) My dowry belongs to you by law, we 



need not go into that. The two hundred thousand 
francs will be sufficient for the education and 
marriage of your daughter, of the child I bore you 
and which the law in its omniscience does not allow 
me to take away with me. Keep her. I kissed her 
to-night, no doubt, for the last time, when I put her 
to bed. 

Elisabeth ! 

Elisabeth {unaffectedly). 

You will notice in the account I have just given you that 
I have deducted from my salary the four months and 
twenty-two days during which I was unable to work, 
because of my interesting condition, as you were 
pleased to call it. If I have omitted anything I 
may owe you according to law, I will send the 
amount with business interest from to-day to the 
date at which you receive it inclusive. Please pro- 
vide in your will how it is to go in case you should 
die before me. 

Felix (to himself). 
Good God ! She has gone mad. 

& v 


To be brief, the thirty-two thousand francs which belong 
to me are so invested that I shall be able, in return 
for my past labour to count on a little bread and 
cheese for the rest of my life, without going through 
any further trials. In fact I have paid my debt to 
society. (Pause. She takes a paper from her bosom 



and places it on the table beside the key and ring.) 
Here is the power of attorney to use the signature of 
the firm, you did me the honour of trusting me with. 
I return it as received. (She gets up.) Any further 

explanation seems needless. I therefore 

[She takes hat and cloak from the chair. 


Why ! What's the matter with you ? What do you 
mean ? Is it on account of the Lelievre affair ? Good 
heavens ! I'll willingly forego the three thousand and 
sixteen francs and even the law costs. But do 


I have explained. (She icalks towards the door at the 
back. Then quietly) I wish you good-night and 
entreat you to forget even the sound of my voice. 

Felix (standing before the door and folding his 
arms. Shortly). 

You have a lover. 

Elisabeth (stopping and getting still paler). 

This is an outrage. You compel me to speak. Very 
well. It is your right. I obey. (She conies forward 
again, leaning against the mantelpiece. Her head 
is lit up by the candles behind her. Speaking in a 
cold, perfectly calm voice) You will not like what 
I have to say, but you have left me no alternative. 
I must reply (looking him full in the face). I 
think you do not know me very well. You probably 
have a false idea of my character. (She smiles in a 



strange way. Felix is thunderstruck.) I will tell you 
the facts. (Pause.) You remember the sort of family 
mine was and the kind of life I was leading when 
you proposed to marry me. You recollect the shop 
with the old armour and the curios. My father and 
mother were matter-of-fact people. They had taught 
me early to attach the greatest value to the smallest 
piece of gold. That is why I can keep accounts and 
am not quite unworthy of your good opinion. 

Am I dreaming ? My dear girl, you frighten me. 


Oh ! don't alarm yourself! — Well, in spite of my surround- 
ings and education, I did not perhaps consider what 
is called " the practical side of life " of supreme 
importance. However, with the modesty becoming 
young people, I did my best to see things in the same 
light as my family. I said to myself : " They must 
know best, because they are older and then they are 
my parents." You understand ? 

Felix (stuttering). 
But — I — Come now — sit down. 


I recollect my father often talking to me as he would to 
a grown-up person. He was a clever sort of man. 
When we were out walking he would point to the 
railway carriages, the electric wires, the gas, the 
smoke. "Look, child," he would say, "this is Human 



Progress, Science spreading its wings and giving 
freedom. Look at the might and splendour of these 
inventions. The past was an age of childhood. It 
is barely a hundred years since Man, casting off 
superstition and dreams, dared face the broad sun- 
light. Be a practical woman, be a good woman and 
be rich. Everything else is vanity." 

Felix {coming nearer to her). 
Now that's not bad, especially the last bit. 


I listened attentively to these precepts, but I could not 
help thinking, in spite of my filial respect, that in 
comparison with the "everything else" my father 
and mother called " vanity," the things they called 
practical and important were only of secondary 

Secondary ! 


Yes. And on account of these, unfortunately, rather 
exceptional feelings, no one took the trouble to 
notice 1 had a profound antipathy, disgust, for 
what is called the solid and practical side of life — 
do you understand — and I listened in silence. You 
see, if others are not deceived by words, I am not 
deceived by facts. And whenever any impression, 
any idea delights and raises me above everyday life, 
helps me to forget my bondage and troubles, I shall 
persist in considering the fact which seems to belie 



the truth of my impression, as false. In other words, 
life for life in this world, with its substantial reality 
of three hundred and sixty-five days per annum, I 
hold that it is better to live in the clouds than in 
mud, however thick and solid it may be. (A pause.) 

Felix (as if stunned). 
Good heavens! What is she saying? What is she 



Elisabeth (quietly). 

Then you came. I yielded to the advice my parents gave 
me, out of gratitude and because it was my duty. 
I accepted you. (Smiling). And yet you cannot 
imagine the utter indifference I have always felt for 

Felix (coldly). 

Look here, Elisabeth, if this is a joke — Hang it — You 
had better stop. 


When I swore in the presence of that man with the 
tricoloured scarf, to be faithful to you unto death, 
without understanding the pledge I was taking, I 
said to myself: "This man who is holding my hand 
in his, is my husband, on him I have henceforth to 
lean. He looks like a sensible man, whose judgments 
are probably more correct, trustworthy and enlightened 
than mine. He has a right to know my thoughts. I 
have to put all my trust in him. In him I put all 
my hope in the future. It seems moreover that this 
is my duty." 
b 17 


Felix (calmer and ironically). 
Good, very good. When you talk anything like sense I 
always agree with you. 


Three days after, as you said nothing, I was simple enough 
to suggest that we should enjoy life together as best 
we could. I spoke to you of the delights of this 
world, of the true reality, the one we ought to choose. 
I poured out all the treasures of my heart and soul 
impetuously at your feet. I spoke to you of a peace- 
ful intelligent life and I felt that I was deserving of 
love and that I could be a worthy companion and a 
devoted mother. 

Felix (stroking his chin). 
But I only remember the — the 


The attitude with which you listened to me, you mean. 
Yes, indeed, it was worth remembering. It was at 
this very hour and in this very place, four and a half 
years ago. You came towards me with a slight, 
almost paternal smile, tapped me gently on the 
cheek with two fingers, and said with your usual 
air of superiority : " You little goose ! Come, come ! 
we must repress this wild imagination of yours." 
That was how you met my advances. And I saw 
at once that although married we were not one at 
heart, that there was an essential difference between 
our two natures, in fact, that my life was wasted. I 
determined then to live apart from you and to prove 



that my ideas were not inferior but superior to yours. 
I did my best by hard and successful office labour to 
indemnify you as far as possible for the loss you might 
sustain on my departure. Hence my unceasing in- 
dustry and foresight and the increase of fortune that 
followed. I was working for my ransom. 

Felix (beginning to get angry). 

Tut, tut, tut, tut, you are talking nonsense. You'll make 
me angry yet. I know what women are and can 
make allowance for quick tempers. But come now. 
What is it you want? Specify once for all, what 
is it? 


I want to live, you dullard. Don't you understand that 
one may reasonably want to enjoy life ? I am 
stifled here, I long for serious things, I want to 
breathe the open air of heaven ! Can I take your 
banknotes with me to the grave ? How much time 
do you think we have to live? (A pause, then 
thoughtfully) To live ? — Do I even care to live ? 
A lover ! — you said. Alas no ! I have no lover 
and never shall have one. I was meant to love a 
husband — mark that — and all I asked of him was 
a spark of human sympathy. You see, it is all 
over now ; the pride of love has frozen in my veins. 
You took from me in my stupidity and anguish, as 
if it were mere dross, what I would have given with 
wild joy and for ever. I hope for your sake that you 
will never find out what you have lost. You are 
like a blind Jew who has dropped his precious 
stones by the roadside. 



Felix {looking at her uneasily. Aside). 

I really think she is mad. {Aloud in icy tones) Come, 
come, be calm. These are words — mere words. 
You must not excite yourself with empty phrases. 
Suppose you go and lie down. Come now ! What 
do you say to that ? 

Elisabeth {unmoved). 

Words ! And with what else do you want me to answer 
you ? With what do you question me ? I hear 
nothing but the ring of money in your words, if 
mine are more beautiful and more profound, pity 
me. It is unfortunate no doubt, but it is my way 
of speaking. And after all what does it matter? 
We are both in the right, I daresay. But that is 
not the question. — I am quite aware that the intense 
desire to love, at least, the glory and grandeur of the 
world, when one is excluded from social love means 
nothing but "words" to you. — I know that for you 
it is mere sentimentality to dream in the twilight, 
with a silent, pretty young wife. I know the 
mystery of the Universe will never draw more than 
an indifferent smile from your self-satisfied lips for 
nothing has ever struck you as pathetic or mysterious, 
not even the lot of Man. Of course I know that, 
being a well-informed, sensible person, you don't 
despise "now and again" the open air, the sea 
breeze, the rocks, the tree-clad hills, the sun, the 
woods, winter and night, the starry heaven — that 
is if you admit a heaven. You consider such things 
"poetical." You speak of them as "the country." 



I have a different way of looking at them. The 
world has only the meaning the strength of words 
and the power of eyes give it, and I consider, to 
look around from a higher point than reality — is 
the art of life — the secret of human nobleness, of 
Happiness and Peace. 

Felix {impatient and contemptuously). 

The art of life is never to dream. You can tell me perhaps 
what dreaming is ? 

Elisabeth {gloomily). 
Are you sure you would understand ? 

Felix {growing angry). 

Elisabeth ! . . . No ... I made up my mind to listen 
to the end. When I know what is in your mind, 
I will answer you after my fashion. 

Elisabeth {quietly). 

Well ! In the first place to dream is to forget the 
tyranny of inferior minds, which are a thousand 
times more abject than stupidity itself. It is to 
escape hearing the moans of incurable misery. It 
is to forget those humiliations we have to bear and 
to inflict on others, called social life. It is to forget 
so-called duties, which are nothing but greed of 
profit, and in whose name we shut our eyes to the 
lot of the weak and suffering. It is to contemplate 
in the depths of our thought a hidden world only 
faintly reflected by outside realities. It is to 
strengthen the ever conscious hope in death — 



death which is at hand. It is to feel the mystery 
of the everlasting, to feel solitary but immortal. It 
is to love the Ideal, to love it as naturally as the 
river flows to the sea. And as for the rest — the 
amusements and duties of the wretched age in which 
my lot is cast — they are not worth a day's existence. 
To dream is to die — to die in silence with a glimpse 
of heaven in one's eyes. How I long for it. I have 
no tenderness left, all my enthusiasm is gone, my 
heart is dead. 

Felix (insolently). 

Oh! I will tell you what it is. You must have been 
reading some mischievous novel which has unhinged 
your mind. 

Elisabeth (taking no notice). 

But supposing that to dream were mere fruitless contem- 
plation of one's own solitude — is that not more useful 
than to pass time in making profit out of the ruin 
of others, than daily to commit a thousand acts of 
fraud and of meanness, than to dishearten those who 
really work and flaunt before them licensed opera- 
tions which make a man rich in an hour. . . . Why 
you have nothing but emptiness to offer me in 
exchange for my dreams ! 

Felix (bursting into laughter). 

Do you want to make me believe you are a woman with- 
out principle, you ! You have a fit of despondency. 
And to think that a minute ago you were sitting 
there so quiet and reasonable. It is incredible ! 



Are you blaming me for earning a dowry for our 
child ? 


If I could only pity you ! But no — these vouchers and 
accounts, a well-filled cash-box, law suits, liquida- 
tions, litigation are your native element. Just as air 
is that of a bird. You snap up banknotes in your 
flight like butterflies. For you the sun does not 
shine, the wind does not blow, man has not patiently 
dreamt and suffered, there is no vaulted heaven over 
the grave. You reckon your days only as so much 
time for making money, premiums, dividends, interest 
— compound if possible. And is it not downright 
insanity to despoil others and rob yourself of your 
own life for a monomania of business, to satisfy a 
mechanical, unquenchable thirst for money making ? 

Felix (stamping his foot). 

Money means influence; it commands esteem. Nobody 
knows that better than you. 


Well, so be it. But your pleasures are not mine. I who 
know well enough what success in business is, I 
consider things that seem to you mere frivolity the 
only realities worth living for. And it is your 
occupations I call childish and mischievous, for in 
them the precious days of life are squandered. Even 
to think of them is lowering and waste of time. 
They pay dear indeed for daily bread who are in- 
capable of anything better than eating it. 


Really— I- 


Felix (furiously). 

Elisabeth (sitting down, her eyes gazing vacantly. 
In a low voice as if to herself). 

Yes — indeed, filial respect and conjugal fidelity hardly 
warrant such blind confidence. My conscience is 
aghast at the results of duty fulfilled. And what, 
under cover of duty, have these big words brought 
me to? Youth murdered — beauty gone before its 
time — exquisite evenings profaned by account books. 
A child whom I dare not bring up — a husband whose 
very presence awakens remembrances which fill my 
eyes with tears of shame. Of shame I tell you — a 
future without a family or friends, the annihilation 
of all I have cherished — degradation and suppression 
of all that is most lovable in me. And amid this ruin, 
if I let it be seen, I should hear the rude laugh of the 
passer-by, sneering at me as nfemme incomprise whose 
desire was to be thought intellectual. For to jeer at 
misfortune with words of contempt like "dreams," 
"poetry," "clouds," sounds practical good sense to 
people who are simply obtuse, people who probably 
could not cope with me for five minutes in a business 
transaction. I have proved that, I think. Yes! 
these are the realities I have lost for the sake of 
learning that two and two make four — and that I 
know as well, if not better than you. They are gone 
for ever, and all your so-called common sense will 
never make up for them. These are my assets and 
liabilities — that is the balance sheet of my life and 
now you know it. 



Felix {shrugging his shoulders). 

Ah ! Your ridiculous excitement is more than I can 
endure. Stop your reproaches and come to the 

Elisabeth (getting up). 

You see no discussion between us is possible. If you 
could only understand what you have done to me, 
your unconscious equanimity would be poisoned with 
remorse for ever. All this, however, is beyond your 
depth and I have not even the resource of hating 
you. My soul is like a child stolen by the gypsies — 
my heart is a vessel of gold rilled with gall. . . . And 
now I must have a little freedom. And if it is my 
duty to remain, I have not the strength to perform 
it. So I am going to leave you. And thanks to 
you there is no time to spare if I am to preserve the 
faculty of enjoying my last rays of sunshine. 

Felix (dazed). 

But I have been suggesting that we should go twice a 
week to the country. 

Elisabeth (going on without listening). 

Far from here is Iceland, Sicily or Norway — it doesn't 
matter which — in a country of my own choice stands 
a lonely house which I have earned, bought with my 
money. Instead of being caged in this office, I shall 
retire to this delightful far-oif spot, where I shall get 
a glimpse of the horizon — that's something useful . . . 
As for the company you receive on Wednesday 
evenings, I prefer that of the trees. It is infinitely 



more wholesome. I prefer the moaning of the winter 
winds to the compliments of Mr Vaudran. Yes, I 
am insane to that extent ! 

Felix (surprised). 
What ! Vaudran pays you compliments ? 

Elisabeth (taking no notice). 

I shall open once more my old books — those boon com- 
panions of the evening. And silence — my old friend 
— I shall have that too. So do not fear for your 
name, which I cannot cast from me. I think a good 
conscience — that you ought to know — the most 
precious thing in the world, whatever anyone else 
says and does. And, if ever I ceased to be strictly a 
virtuous woman, my light would go out, like a lamp 
without oil. Such is my nature, and I like myself 
the better for it. 

Felix (disturbed, sarcastic and cold). 
You have bought some property ? 

Elisabeth (playing absently with a little 
pocket pistol). 

No one will find me in the country I am going to, and no 
taste for society, flirtation, toilets, balls and gaieties 
of any kind will ever make me quit it, except on 
some grey winter morning in the cold rain along a 
lonely road, escorted by an old servant and a man 
with a spade. 



There is no doubt about it, I must send for the doctor. 
You are mad. 

Elisabeth {quietly puts on her cloak, hat and gloves). 

Felix {interrupting her). 

Where are you going ? Do stop this absurd scene and go 
to bed like a sensible woman. The country — the 
country, after all, is only fit for little birds ! — I was 
wrong to be angry just now — I should not have taken 
what you said seriously. Come, give up that idea 
of going away. You don't mean it any more than I 
do ; it is absurd. It is even pitiful. I need only say 
one word to prove it to you. You give me up — 
very well. But what about your duties as a mother ? 
You speak to me about trees, and evening com- 
panions — and your daughter ? It is with her you 
ought to spend your evenings — you hear ? You have 
to bring her up and teach her to love her parents, 
and all the things a woman should know — book- 
keeping — healthy ideas, and how to spend a useful 
and active life. You can even teach her her prayers 
— I don't object. Yes I have noticed you are given 
to mysticism and devotions. Now don't say a word, 
but go to your bedroom. To-morrow morning, when 
you look at things more calmly, you will be the first 
to acknowledge 

Elisabeth {stopping and frowning). 

Perhaps you don't know I have some acquaintance with 
your character. You are appealing to my motherly 
feelings in order to retain a good and trustworthy 



cashier. This is terribly clear to me. Only yesterday 
you said your daughter was to be brought up in a 
convent, that she should go there as soon as possible 
and only leave it at her marriage, like everybody else. 

Felix {almost strikes her, but stopping short). 

Wretched woman ! Now see whether you are right. 
You would crush a poor little innocent life with the 
weight of your sickening discontent. You have no 
right to do so. Yet I do not think you really cruel 
and unnatural. 

Elisabeth {more and more gloomy, almost 

My child ! Oh, how often in the night have I taken her 
in my arms and tried to knead her afresh with my 
kisses, to transfuse my being into her and in her seek 
deliverance. But she looks at me as at a stranger. 
There is not a trace of me in the child. I see only 
you — you — in her eyes. Even in her I cannot escape 
from you. Do you think I should otherwise have 
hesitated to take her away and make her my com- 
panion in misfortune ? There may be grandeur and 
beauty in some despair, but mine, mingled with the 
life of your child, would be poison. No ! my heart 
has shed its love drop by drop. I am a lifeless body. 
I should freeze my daughter when I kissed her. I 
leave her as I leave this house. There is nothing 
more for me to do here. Besides, I have other duties 
to fulfil. The fire is out and the ashes are cold. 

[She wraps herself hastily in her cloak 
and goes towards the door. 


Felix {with his arms folded). 

Elisabeth, you shall not go out. Am I not master here ? 
You talk of leaving your daughter and your husband 
— you — a good and virtuous woman. Come now. 
You are hysterical. It is impossible. 

Elisabeth {pointing to a crystal paper weight 
on the table). 

You see this block of crystal. I leave it to you as a 
souvenir. Not even the shadow of these account 
books can tarnish it. All light, as the light of this 
candle sparkles in its depth, with a thousand gleam- 
ing rays. Its one faculty is to reflect light. Its 
edges are hard and sharp ; it is polished, transparent, 
truthful — and icy cold. If you should ever think of 
me — look at it. 
[She pulls down her veil, and opening the door goes 

out. While Felix stands stupefied she disappears 

in the darkness. 

Felix (makes a motion as if to rush after her, seems 
suddenly to change his mind). 

Ah! the 

[He stops on the threshold. A deep silence. 


Felix (contemptuous but furious). 

She does it to frighten me. She wouldn't leave her 
child. I have been too patient. I should have — 
yes I should have taken my stick. She thinks 



perhaps I shall run after her ! I'm not such a fool 
— that is certain. It is her reading those police 
reports during my nap after dinner. I have noticed 
she has looked rather strange for some time now. 
I know what women are. It is hysteria. If 
I have understood a word of her reproaches, 
I'll be — What in the world have I done to her ? 
Nothing whatever. I can't pass over such an 
outburst. No doubt she has gone to bed — and I 
will . . . (Sound of carriage wheels outside). . . . 
Eh ! (runs to window and opens it). What ! No ! 
It's impossible. Surely she is not going to abandon 
her husband and child. . . . Baptistin ! . . . the 
carriage! — the carriage! Baptist . . . (strokes his 
forehead and stops). Good God ! It is too late. It 
was she who sent the servants to bed to-night — she 
ordered the cab. She has dared! I am choking 
(tears off his cravat). What's the matter with my 
chest. I can't breathe. How queer I feel. I didn't 
think I was so sensitive as that ! Gone — gone ! 
Oh ! this is really getting serious (falls into an arm- 
chair by the table). So the women nowadays leave 
husband and child to go and dream ! (A silence.) 
These things — this pen she has just used ! Her 
watch ! she has left it behind — her ring ! — She can't 
leave me alone with her child. — Has she really gone ! 
It is abominable. She is a bad mother. It is 
against nature — it is impossible. (He rises and 
strides excitedly to and fro.) No, she will never 
come back — never. She has an iron will. I am 
beginning to understand her now. I know her. I 
am alone. She left nothing unforeseen. I am . . . 



(with a groan, sitting down on a chair in a corner). 
Oh, these walls! how empty it is here. I never 
noticed it before ! (with a distracted air, interrupting 
himself in a low voice). A little house — the winter 
wind — silence — always solitude — solitude — and I — 
(pulling himself together). Help ! help ! I cannot 
make out what is the matter with me — I am not ill 
— and yet — I feel so queer — as if I were drowned — 
it's like tearing my life from my body. Elisabeth ! 
(He makes a few tottering steps, and then falls into 
a chair near the door with arms extended.) I don't 
know what it is, but I am suffering dreadfully — dread- 
fully. [He faints. 


The clock over the door strikes one. Slow music. Then from 
time to time after a sufficiently long pause, two o'clock, 
then half-past two, then three, then half-past three, and 
at length four o'clock strikes. Felix remains unconscious. 
The dawn appears at the windows. The candles go out. 
The rim of a candlestick cracks. The fire burns down. 
The door in the background is roughly opened. Elisabeth 
enters trembling, deadly pale, holding her pocket handker- 
chief to her mouth. Without seeing her husband, she goes 
slowly to the big arm-chair, next the mantelpiece, throws 
off her hat, then covering her face with her hands, sits down 
and begins to think aloud. She is cold and shivers, her 
teeth chatter. 




Felix and Elisabeth. 

Elisabeth {looking benumbed. To herself). 

Too late ! — I have no spirit left. When I looked through 
the carriage window into the night, despite all my 
longing for freedom, my heart sank and a cold feeling 
of exile came over me. I felt as if I were held in fetters 
of lead. Had I exaggerated the charms of the countries 
I longed to see ? The noise of the wheels jarred. 
It seemed as if I were hiding something from myself. 
Even my pride failed me, and solitude seemed simply 
bewildering. I thought perhaps I was ill and that 
the rupture had been too much for me. Illness had 
never before affected my thoughts. — It could not 
be that. I felt unhinged, utterly helpless. After 
all I suppose I was just like other people — over- 
powered by the sense of the irremediable. The 
minutes seemed interminable. I saw what I should 
be to-morrow, the day after — in a week — in three 
months — sad and alone, in the midst of that coveted 
solitude, regretting even the insipidity of my previous 
life. {She leans her elbow on the table thoughtfully.) 
The brambles beat against the carriage window. 
The sky shone, over the wood through which we 
passed. Yes, the sky was there, but it seemed to 
me like forbidden fruit. I felt as if all its grand 
and ennobling influence were wasted on me. It was 
horrible ! I knew that the sacred breath of life was 
around me — that I was conscious of it, and yet I 
was indifferent. I enjoyed it no more. My intense 



longing for oblivion was gone. I could no more 
concentrate myself in meditation. I had forgotten 
how to soar above the world, how to shut my ears 
against the mocking laughter of mankind. It was 
over with me. . . . Oh God ! I see it is too late. 
One must not stoop ever to win freedom. I had 
given way too much, overvalued the daily bread. 
The eyes of my youth are gone. Enthusiasm too. 
Art no longer exalts. Silence does not appease 
me. That man has drunk up my soul as if it had 
been water. These four years of drudgery have 
broken my spirits. — Nothing can be blotted out. 
I was boasting when I said I wanted to live. I give 
it up. I have become like those who have never 
had a glimpse of heaven. That man's perpetual 
smile has filled my soul with bitterness and gloom. 
His accounts have crippled my mind. Whether he 
lives now or dies, it is just the same to me. I 
must remain what I have become. The world is 
henceforth a blank. Why go away? What does 
it matter whether I sleep here or elsewhere. — Do 
I even know why I have come back? — Oh yes — I 
remember. I did not know where to go to. The 
cold morning air chilled me and I returned. (A 
long silence.) There is one thing still — I might 
carry off my child and cling to her as to a raft, 
might try to make her a woman with a heart of 
steel, able to endure all disenchantments, stomach 
all loathings. For that I should have to take her 
with me. I should have to accept with a bold 
front — like so many others. (She smiles bitterly.) 
Have I the right to oppress her with the weight 
c 33 


of my future ? (She stops.) No, I will not. I 
cannot. It is only by bending to the law that 
you rise above it. No — let me have no troubles 
of that kind, no romantic acts to reproach myself 
with in the hour of death. I am chained to a 
wretch who has killed me. But my place is here, 
and there is no way out of it. To flee with a 
faint heart would be cowardice. I shall educate 
my daughter — that is all — and to-morrow I shall 
recommence my old life. I have gone through 
the ordeal and I have failed. (A pause.) I was 
made to bring forth brave men who deliver the 
world, to soothe the noble brow of one who shared 
my thoughts. But this, it seems, was not in store 
for me. To live under this roof is duty — honour 
— dignity. (After a moment.) And yet how 
strange! (She gets up.) Let me begin. (Throws 
off Iter cloak, arranges her dress before the looking- 
glass and appears as she was at first.) Oh, the 
cold bleak dawn ! (Looks round.) It seems as if 
years had passed since I left this room. (Goes 
slowly to the table, relights the lamp and opens the 
account books.) There are hours like a lifetime, 
they fix your fate for ever. 
[Sits down and takes up her pen in the same 
attitude as ivhen curtain rose. 

Felix (coming to himself and looking at her stupidly). 

You — You here — am I dreaming? Have you sent away 
the carriage ? Have you not gone away ? I can tell 
you I almost died. (Looking suddenly at the clock). 
Four o'clock! Four in the morning. (Looks at 



Elisabeth. Silence.) Oh! I understand ! (Laughs 
sarcastically.) It is only fools who don't come back. 
(Crossing his arms.) Now, what about Sicily, 
Hungary and Norway. Ah, you thought you could 
desert your duties and go off to dreamland ! You 
thought your fancies could be realised ! Fool that I 
was to excite myself, as I did, instead of saying to 
you: "My dear girl, the door is open — go — try." 
(Elisabeth makes a movement.) Don't speak ! I 
forgive you, and I am sure you will never go away 
again. Look here, I don't even regret the pain you 
gave me. It was a good lesson. This quarrel has 
shown me that you were more necessary to me than 
I thought; it has proved to you that you are not only 
my cashier but my wife. And it has also proved to 
both of us that as long as there is romantic nonsense 
in the world, respectable people will not be safe. 

Elisabeth (with a gentle smile). 

And to think that I was going to desert you, just when 
the half monthly balance should be made out. That 
wasn't common sense ? 

Felix (quite charmed). 

That's right. Now that word shows me you are quite 
yourself again. Give me your hand and let us make 
peace. What are dreams indeed compared with 
this pleasant reality? — Poetry? — hem — a disease. 
I know it. Have had it myself. (Takes her hand. 
Elisabeth totters,— from fatigue no doubt. Felix 
looks at her with real affection. Elisabeth smiling 
seems quite happy. He kisses her hand, then aside, 



nodding to himself). All the same, I am not sorry 
she should be a little humiliated. (Aloud). Now 
you see, I am not such a brute after all. (Kisses her 
hand again. Elisabeth standing near a chair. She 
has become gloomy again. Felix does not notice it. 
She seems lost in thought.) 

Elisabeth (bends over him and says in a slow and 

serious voice). 

Poor man ! (She looks at him with pity and sadness). 






Old Matthew. 




Officer of Gendarmes. 



A Carter. 


" Lazare, veni foras ! " — The Gospel. 

Drawing-room in a country house. Night. On the left in the 
foreground, window with heavy curtains. Balcony visible. 
Beyond in the half obscurity, trees and garden. Doors at 
back, and on the left, another on the right. On a table 
in middle of stage two vases with flowers. Sofa, carpet. 
Near door at back, piano with unlit candles. When the 
curtain rises, a man is seen climbing over the balcony. 
His hair is close cut, his shirt dirty and bloodstained. He 
is followed by another man dressed like a sailor with a 
blue cape, the hood drawn over his head. Moonlight. 


Pagnol and Old Matthew. > 

Pagnol (panting, looks about him). 

Hush ! [Then goes to the dooi' at the back, 

listening intently. 

Old Matthew (taking a flower out of one 
of the vases, in a loud voice). 

Will the Viscount accept a rose? (Then changing his 
tone). Everybody is at the wedding. We are at 
home, so to speak. 

Pagnol (anxiously). 

Bother it ! I wasn't careful enough on the road. That 
carter, you know ? That was bad luck meeting him. 



He looked suspicious. I should have squared his 
account — without a word ! I was thinking about 
you — I don't know what — and I let him pass. 

Old Matthew. 

Fool ! {Deep silence.) After all though, it does not 
much matter. You will be safe at my place before 
the cannon lets the citizens of Rochefort and the 
peasants hereabouts know that the famous Pagnol 
alias "the Throttler" has escaped after strangliDg 
his pal in chains, and killing two calkers on the 
quay — A mere trifle ! 

All the same — I am sorry. 

Old Matthew. 

Never mind, old chap. Don't repent. You're as safe as 
a registered letter. 


Oh, I mean on account of the carter. I hope he has not 
followed me. I am afraid of spies to-night. 

Old Matthew. 

Don't think of it. Come now, be cool, Pagnol. Don't 
get soft. 

Pagnol (suddenly). 
How many have I to to-night ? 

Old Matthew (reflectively). 

Probably three. 



With those that I have already 

Old Matthew (anxiously). 
Well ? 

That'll make six. 

Old Matthew (rubbing his hands). 

You remember my thumb trick all right ? With that the 

thing's done in a jiffy ! Isn't it clever ? Nick ! — 

and it's done. 


Those three to-day. Do you think they said a word ? 

Old Matthew. 

It's true, you do have a paw. Worse than a screw. 
That thumb trick was a present to me from that 
famous Bordier, you know, alias " the Parson." I hid 
him ten days in my cellar near the quay. You'll be 
there in an hour, or hour and a half. There I'll clothe 
you like a gentleman, give you documents, take you 
into my lighter and then off to sea. You arrive in a 
foreign land and there you can pass for anybody you 
like. You can let your mustaches grow and revel 
in the Oriental luxury of being an honest man — as 
Bordier did — sly cuss he was ! 

And — with how much ? 

Old Matthew (patting Pagnol on the stomach). 
Twenty thousand francs. Nice sum, eh ? 



Pagnol (pleased). 
Enough to retire from business, anyhow. 

Old Matthew. 

Yes. That's what they say ! Enough ! — You have lost 
the habits of good society, but once free, your fine 
manners will come back. 


Are we going to do it together ? 

Old Matthew (taking snuff without speaking). 

Listen, Pagnol. A good friend — a just enemy — fair with 
the spoil. That's Old Matthew ! I have helped you 
to escape to-night from the prison of Rochefort 
where you were a convict for life — that's true. I 
have brought you here, to this snug country house. 
It is quiet and isolated. You can work here at your 
ease — That is true again. But that's enough. I 
don't dip my hands in blood. I am only a poor 
sailor and wish to remain one — always ready to oblige 
a friend, as everybody knows. But it's only just that 
he also should do his share, eh ? 

Pagnol (starting and listening). 

I thought I heard footsteps in the house — No. I am 

Old Matthew (looking at him after a silence). 

It's the wind in the trees. It's nothing. Haven't I told 
you, you would hear the front door when they come 
in from the wedding ? — What's that you are doing ? 




Oh nothing. Sharpening my knife on my boot. In case 
of an accident 

Old Matthew {laughing). 

Oh ! Two years of galley-slaving makes paste for razors 
of your heels does it ? . . . Now listen. They are 
quite capable of not waiting till the ball is over. 
(Aside). Considering certain precautions I took, it's 
very likely indeed. (Takes more snuff.) Well, M. 
Dumont, young Lucien Dumont — Did I tell you ? 
— But his name doesn't matter — He was married this 
morning to the daughter of M. Lebreuil, Mademoiselle 
Marianne. Her father left this house yesterday and 
has made a present of it to the young couple. The 
wedding is being celebrated in his new home not two 
hundred feet from here. You see the lights shining 
through the trees? We heard the music, you re- 
member, when we passed. (Pensively). So he lives 
there now, old Lebreuil 


Old Matthew. 

Nothing, nothing. Well then, M. Lucien and his bride 
are coming here to their home to spend the wedding 
night. Besides them there will be only (points to 
the door on the right) old Yvonne. She'll come in 
soon. She sleeps in there. That makes three. He 
is only twenty-two, she seventeen. Just two children. 
(Taking more snuff.) People shouldn't marry so 
young. It's unhealthy. 



And then ? — I suppose they are rich, the young couple ? 

Old Matthew. 

Stupid ! — there's the dowry ! — forty thousand francs 
neither more nor less : Lucien received this morning 
Mile. Marianne's fifteen thousand francs and had 
to show his own portion you know. — Twenty-five 
thousand francs. — He brought the money in a pocket- 
book and then put the two sums together. 


And — he carries — all that about him ? 

Old Matthew. 

Wait a bit — what a hurry you are in. Think a little. 
I can't swear of course if he has it in his pocket — and 
you understand — we had better make sure of the 
joke before we laugh, as "the Parson" used to say ! 
But, if he has not, then it is certainly locked up 
somewhere here in the house. He came this after- 
noon and examined the house from garret to cellar 
so I heard from old Yvonne. There was no letter, 
and no notary was employed ! So the money is 
either here or on his person in banknotes — in a 


Then how can I know ! I'm not going to kill those kids 
for nothing ! 

Old Matthew. 

Patience, patience ! — A newly married couple talks. They 
make projects for the future before they go to sleep ! 



— You understand ? You'll hide yourself and listen. 
You're sure to hear something about where they have 
hidden the pile and then ! — they'll give no trouble, 
I'll bet. (Aside). Considering I poured some drops 
of this into their glasses at the wedding dinner where 
I helped — (showing a little bottle) — Another present 
from "the Parson." — A newly married couple sleepy ! 
What a good joke ! They'll get drowsy all at once 
and Pagnol will do the rest with his big thumb. 

Pagnol (under his breath). 
And after it's done, what then ? 

Old Matthew (aside). 

There will be no difficulty. I need not explain. 

Better not. What do they call it? Accessory in 

murder. No. No damned foolery. You never 
know what may happen. 

Pagnol (looking at him). 
What are you mumbling there, to yourself? 

Old Matthew. 

I am thinking how you will get away. — Yes, I have it. 
Here is old Yvonne's room. I have often offered 
her a pinch of snuff to have a talk. You see I 
have been maturing my plans for a long time, and 
if I got you out just at the right moment, it was to 
lose no time. I am no noodle, I can tell you. 



Yes, yes ! — I know — you are no noodle. 

Old Matthew. 

When it's done, you go in there, to the old woman : if 
she wakes up — mind, no noise ! 

There will be no noise. 

Old Matthew. 

You're a duck. In her room — you know? You push 
open a door to your right and the staircase is before 
you. You go down and get into the cellar, it's open. 
There you will see an air-hole giving on to the fields. 
I'll wait for you outside. You need only say " hush " 
and I'll throw in a rope. You pull yourself up and 
ten minutes after we are in my den, dividing the 
spoil — twenty thousand for me, twenty thousand for 
you. I'll hide you in Bordier's cellar and a little 
later, off to sea ! rich and free ! It is as clear as 
spring water. 


I couldn't pass through an air-hole though ! 

Old Matthew. 

Yes, my love, you can. I have loosened two big stones. 
If we have time we'll put them back and stick them 
in with clay, then nobody will ever know how you 
came out. 


Why uot by the window ? it would be quicker 



Old Matthew. 

Wait a bit. Distingo ! — In an hour or two the ball is 
over and people will be passing this way. They 
mustn't see me in the garden. (Aside). I must 
prepare an alibi at once for myself. You never 
know! — (Aloud). In three quarters of an hour I 
am at the air-hole. On that side the road is lonely 
and leads to the port. It passes alongside a wood 
and I can be there without danger. Besides, it's the 
safest and nearest. 

Pagnol (almost to himself). 
Where can he have put them, except in the desk ? 

Old Matthew (looking at him). 

Most likely, still we don't know. Listen and make 
sure. A bold front, a good scent and a firm wrist. 
All depends on that. I see you understand, count 
on an old chap who always keeps his word. (Putting 
his leg over the balcony). Ta-ta — I'll see you at the 
air-hole. [Disappears. 

Pagnol alone. 


Hallo, you're going ? (Stopping short). I felt as if I 
was being tugged by my leg. (Looking round). 
Alone! — This morning we were two and I wasn't 
afraid. This then is freedom ! (Breathing hard). I 
feel as if my chain had got into my lungs. — Yes, in 



an hour, the wide sea ! — Oh the sea — I love the sea ! 
And to be forced to do like a wild beast, to be free 
— to enjoy the woods, the wind, the hills, and the 
sea ! It is different with the bosses. For them it's all 
jolly. They have no troubles and don't care. They 
only look after themselves — I'm going to nab two of 
them anyhow! — And God will reward me for it. 
{Goes towards the table). Flowers for the bride ! — 
Flowers ? I had quite forgotten about them. They 
don't grow in the place I come from. (Silence.) 
L ove ! — and to think that I too have known what 
love is ! (Pulling a convict's cap out of his pocket). 
And here is the proof of it. (Walking excitedly 
about the drawing-room.) Love ! — If I had been 
before the registrar they wouldn't have sent me 
to Rochefort when I surprised the two together 
and slipped them off into the other world. And 
my advocate, who came to the prison smoking his 
cigarette, said it was merely a question of form. 
Oh my advocate ! — such a well-shaven young man ! 
— While he was talking to me, it seemed as if my 
chains, the guillotine, God, the devil and all the rest 

were dancing in the clouds of his smoke 

Curse it ! Are those little fools never coming ? You'll 
have a nice hug, my pets, and it's I who will be the 
registrar to-night. This thing on my head is not a 
night- cap to go to bed with. (Putting on the cap 
and lifting his head). I have had enough of that 
life, and if I can only live in blood, it's no fault of 
mine. (Noise of the front door opening.) Somebody 
(grins) — Oh yes ! the sofa. (Hides under it. Yvonne 
enters.) It's the old woman ! 




[Pagnol hidden, Yvonne enters candle in hand. The 
scene lights up slightly. She shades the candle 
with one hand against the draught. 

Yvonne {joyful, in grand attire). 

So now they are married, the young ones. My little 
Marianne ! How pretty she looked under her veil ! 
And now she is a Madame. How sweet they both 
are ! And M. Lucien, he said to me " Go home 
quickly, Yvonne. We shall get away in a few 
minutes." I am sure they are at my heels — Their 
room ? Everything ready and all in blue ! — I don't 
know why it makes me think of my poor Chariot ! 

Pagnol {starting. Aside, under the sofa). 

Fool that I am! I am still thinking I am over there. 

And I thought she was speaking of 

[He makes a motion of cutting off his head. 

Yvonne (putting the furniture in order). 

Never mind, Yvonne ! Let us go to bed. It is the young 
ones who will stay up to-night. To-morrow morning 
I shall be up betimes and prepare their breakfast — 
But it must not become a habit. Dear little tinners ! 
Won't they be happy! — {going to the window and 
arranging the curtains). It's rather cold to-night. 
I don't know why it is, but since M. Lebreuil left it 
seems lonely like here. We shall have to keep a dog. 
Then it's the country, and when I think that only 
d 49 


a few miles off in town, there are Only to think 

of it makes me shudder. Now, to bed. Everything 
in good order ? (Looking round with satisfaction). 


Pagnol (aside). 

A voice too much. She is one to cry out. 

[Creeps softly behind her. 

Yvonne (opening her door). 

Good night, my children ! 

[The candle falls, Pagnol has stood up and in horrible 
earnest pushes Yvonne into her room. The noise 
of a falling chair, but no cry. After a few 
moments Pagnol re-enters and shuts the door 
behind him. 



Pagnol (he looks pale and anxious, his 
features contracted). 

Amen. — It has made me quite sick, this work ! . . . After 
all, it is perhaps better for the old woman. The 
young ones would have treated her like a dog, now 
they are happy. (Gloomily). Yes — she wanted to 
bite me already. (Pushes the sofa mechanically in 
front of the door of Yvonne's room. Sound of the 
front door being closed.) There they are ! — Curse it ! 
— I smell blood ! Rich ! saved ! free ! In an hour ! 
— first find where the hoard is, and then ! 

[Hides behind curtains, knife in hand. 



[Pagnol, behind curtain. Enter Lucien and 
Marianne laughing like children, Lucien with 
a lighted candle. He is in his wedding clothes. 
Flowers in his button-hole. Marianne all in 
white with orange blossoms and veil. She comes 
forward to the right of the table. 

Lucien (setting the candlestick on the table, coming 
forward to the left and taking Marianne's hand). 

At length ! 


Lucien ! my dear, dear Lucien ! 

[He draws her towards a stool in front of table, 
seats himself at Iter feet and looks at her. 

Let us remain like this. 


To live together for ever ! Lucien, do you realise it ? 

My wife ! 


So much happiness makes me wish to die. 

Yes, live — or die, anything you like — only with you. 


Dearest ! 




Your hair smells so sweet. What is it ? 

The orange blossoms. 

Luoien {enraptured). 

You think so ? 
What bosh ! 
Yes, sir. 

Pagnol (aside). 
Marianne (smiling). 


Let me try to realise you are there. 

Pagnol (aside). 
Are they never going to speak of the shiners ? 

If you knew, Marianne, how I have longed for this moment. 


And I, have I not? All day long I have thought of 
you : Now he is coming home, now he is working. 
I hope he will not tire himself. If he were to fall 
ill ! And I contrived to find out many things with- 
out showing how. Why, what is the matter ? You 
have tears in your eyes. My darling, have I said 
anything to hurt you ? 

I love you ! 



Marianne (goes and leans over the balcony. Lucien 

follows her). 

What a lovely night : I can see the lights on the water. 
What joy to love one another! (Turning to Lucieri) 
In summer when we go to the shore we {inter- 
rupting herself). Look ! I thought I saw the curtain 


It is the shadow of the candlestick on the wall. The soft 
wind played in your veil, and made the light unsteady. 
How lovely you are, Marianne. (She passes Jier hand 
over her foreliead. He takes her into his arms.) 
Are you tired ? 


No ; I have only danced with you. But I feel so strange 
— I can hardly speak. It's nothing — too much 

happiness, perhaps (languidly turning again 

to the window). Oh, you dear flowers in the garden 

of our home, I bless you for the happiness 

(A distant flash of light and boom of a cannon.) 
What's that? A cannon? From the town at ten 
at night ! Is a prince expected ? 

No, a prisoner must have escaped. 

Marianne (folding her hands). 

Oh, the poor man. I do hope they will not catch him. 
(Silence.) To think that to-night, so near our joy 
someone exists, so unhappy, so desperate. 



Lucien {thoughtfully). 
The poor fellow is perhaps hidden under the prison floor, 
half drowned. 

Marianne {tears in her eyes). 

Perhaps he is even innocent! — We ought always to 
forgive, for the judges can but punish. The poor 
man ! How much he is to be pitied. 


Yes, to save and to pity is for angels like you— Oh ! 
I was forgetting. Since this morning — {opens a 
pocket-book and takes out banknotes). This is our 
whole fortune, Marianne, I should have handed it 
over at once to our old friend, Lawyer Dubois, 
but then I should have had to leave you, and 
I couldn't do that. 


You will show them to-morrow to Yvonne, won't you, 
Lucien? How glad she will be! We must take 
great care of her and not let her want for anything. 
My good old nurse ! 


Dearest wife ! 


You'll see how well we shall arrange our lives ! There 
are so many poor people hereabouts, so very, very 
poor. We must make the bread go a long way. 
We shall always be rich enough — and then there 
are so many who do not love one another. We 



could even go without something. There would 
always remain a good share. 

Yes, indeed ! The best ! 


I have but one thought — you, and that is all I want — 
But I don't know what makes me shudder. I feel 
as if at this moment we were in great danger. Now 
listen to what I say ; those that do not pray are 
never happy. Let us think of God together. 

Lucien (smiling). 
If you wish it, dear heart ! 

Marianne (kneeling down drowsily, struggling 
against effects of the narcotic). 

Our Father in heaven who has blest us, have pity on the 
poor miserable man who is dying of cold and hunger, 
under the prison floor — half drowned ! Help him to 
find a heart which shall not repel him, comfort him 
and give him shelter and hope ! Make him to weep 
if he should be guilty and forgive in his turn ! He 
is our brother, your child like ourselves, let him be 

saved here, (her head drops on Lucien s shoulder) 

and hereafter! 

Lucien (softly). 

If the one for whom you have prayed were here, I should 
save him. (Trying to lead her towards the door to 
the right). My little wife, my love, come. (Stop- 



ping short). But what is the matter with me? 
How drowsy I feel ! 

Marianne (rises, tottering). 

I don't know — I can't see you. My eyes are closing — 

Lucien ! (They take afeiv steps with half closed eyes. 

Beaching the sofa near the door they drop on to it, 

and sit side by side). I love you ! 

[Puts her arm round his neck and goes to sleep 

with her head on his chest. 

Marianne ! 

[Tries to get up; totters and falls back on the 
cushions. Both fall asleep and remain motionless. 


[Lucien, Marianne asleep. Pagnol, coming from 
behind the curtain. 


No, none of that for me. I don't like to be wheedled. 
(Between his teeth). Brats! I expected cuffing, 
cries, kicks — I hate cries and strike to shut them 
up. But — when they are sleeping like lambs ! I 
ought to be glad — yet it puts me out of humour. 
Drat it ! That there should be the like of them ! 
These are not a man and a woman. They're two 
little saints — just ! I don't like this work ! (Scratch- 
ing his head, haggard, crumpling his green cap in per- 
plexity). If they were a couple of great fat bosses, 



with fine round stomachs, watch chains and seals 
dangling over them, with a look about them of good 
advice to the starving ! I like the bosses, they give 
me an appetite. {Grinding his teeth). A juryman! 
(Smacks his lips and rolls his eyes). A dainty bit ! 
Ha, ha, ha ! a dainty bit indeed ! {After a moment). 
I didn't think they would be like that — these kids ! 
— They have hit the right nail on the head and no 
mistake — I don't understand all they said, but that's 
what it is all the same. {Seeing the banknotes on the 
ground). What children ! They don't hide ! They 
have no thought of ruin. — Still take it I must. If 
they were only in a desk with drawers and locks ! 
But like this — there's no merit! Is there merit or 
is there not ? There is none. {Suddenly). Pooh ! 
they are not galley-slaves ! Anybody can be good 
at that rate. Besides they can work. What's the 
fiiss ! I can't work : I wasn't taught Latin like the 
priests. I have had no education — they have a 
business! All the same, I'm glad I have not to 
touch them. {Bends down, to pick up the notes 
and intently watches their sleep, his face above theirs. 
His arm drops as he looks at Marianne and Lucien.) 
They are good to look at! So young! — Yes, and 
good — Good as doves. They love each other quietly 
and go to sleep ! I don't know what they have done 
to me but — I'm afraid! — No! — I won't have their 
money ! {Mechanically staffs the money into Mari- 
annes pocket. Silence.) Now, let's cut. There are 
other bosses in the world besides these. I'll spin old 
Matthew a yarn. I'll tell him they did not speak of 
the money and that I shall do other work for him. 



He'll have to hide me all the same. — As for his 
twenty thousand counters, he can lump it if he 
doesn't like it. I'll be off. Of us three, I may be the 
luckiest after all. Good-bye, my pets — I have heard 
your babble. You are nice and I don't want to hurt 
you ; besides there would be no merit in it, and I 
won't. It's lucky I can't read, that I'm not a notary 
like my pal was. He would have done it. — He was 
a sly rogue : he did know a thing or two. I don't — 
Now to the air-hole. (Looks about.) It's easily said 
— let's cut — but how? — (Looking at Marianne and 
Lucien). Confound it ! The door is there ! (Reflec- 
tively after a moment of consternation). Now, what 
made me push the sofa they are sleeping on in front 
of that door, as if on purpose to be tempted ? They 
prevent me from going — This is the way to the air- 
hole. {Knitting his brows). Wait a bit ! I have to 
save my skin. — It's rot all this. I don't mind sneak- 
ing off for once, but I won't be a (He reflects). 

Can't help it — must wake them — I shall say : Don't 
cry out. I am a poor wretch. I'm the one they're 
after. They aren't turnkeys — they won't split, and 

I (Stops short). Hang it ! — the old woman 

— They mustn't go in there. They'd hate me. ( Walks 
towards the windoiv. A cry as of a sea gull.) Ah ! 
That must be old Matthew whistling in the distance. 
(Pagnol remains motionless, trembling, livid.) There 
they are ! The police, jailors, gendarmes, peasants ! 
— All after the convict. Oh, the beasts ! — It's the 
carter — it's he sold me ! ( Violently places the candle- 
stick on the table.) No time to spare — Or perhaps 

if (Reflects, then with decision goes to the 



window. Bends over listening, then gloomily). 
They are whispering in the garden. (Stops and looks 
about). The chimney ? No go. They would light a 
fire and get on the roof. Besides they have their blood 
hounds. (Looking at the door behind the sofa). The 
only way is by this door. The air-hole is my only 
hope. (Looking at the sleeping couple). There is 
nothing for it. They must be hushed ; I have always 
been unlucky — Well, they have had their day ; and 
I must pass over their bodies to save my head. 
(Looks at them. Trembling, opens his knife, then 
talking fast and wildly). I see the gallows before 
my eyes. All is red. The straw ! The priest in 
the cart ! The hour has come. (Sounds of footsteps 
and swords on the staircase ; he starts and grips his 
knife). Worse luck ! it's all over ! (Suddenly, 
haggard, and with a terrible look throws down his 
knife and folds his arms). Well then — That's it — I 
shan't kill them. (Remains staring, while the door 
is burst open with the butt-ends of muskets. Con- 
fusion of voices outside.) He is in there — quick, 
quick ! He's there. Break open the door ! 

[Door gives way. 


[Lucien, Marianne, Pagnol, officer of gendarmes, 
peasants with pitchforks. A carter, gendarmes 
with drawn swords climbing in through the 
window. People armed with sticks. Jailors 
with pistols. Old Matthew gagged and in chains. 

The Carter. 
There he is ! 




In the name of the law, don't move. (Seizes the convict 
by the collar.) Jerome Anthony Pagnol alias " the 
Throttler," convict for life and murderer, you will 
return with us to the prison of Rochefort. 

The Carter. 

You know what awaits you there. (Makes the motion of 
cutting off the head. Pagnol motionless and in 
thought. His hands are taken hold of.) 

Lucien (waking). 

What is it ? — Marianne, good heavens ! 

[He takes his wife in his arms. Marianne wakes. 


Lucien! What — what is it? (Looks round terrified.) 
Oh ! I am frightened ! I am frightened ! 

A Jailor. 
Well ? — How do you like being caught by me ? Eh ? 

Carter (hitting Pagnol with his fist). 
Take that, you dog ! [Marianne swoons. 

The Carter. 

I had a notion he was a runaway when I passed him in 

my cart. 


Come now, let him alone. It's a good thing we are in 
time ! (Pulling out his watch). What's the time ? 
— 11.37. We shall be back about midnight. 



Drown him, the murderer ! 


Kill him ! 

Officer (knitting his brows). 

Stop that. You hold your tongues, or I'll handcuff the 
whole lot of you. You know he'll lose his head — 
But till then he is under the protection of the law. 
— Respect the law ! [Deep silence. 

Pagnol {aside, while being handcuffed). 

It's queer! — but — it seems to me as if it were now that I 
was escaping. 






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